Is your will valid in Florida?
Writing a will is an important and basic estate planning step that few people take. A will that is valid and legal can be an effective way to spare your loved ones many of the stresses and complications that may arise after your death. You can also use a will to designate your estate executor and name someone to be guardian of any minor children you leave behind.
The key is that your will must be valid. In fact, some advisors suggest that an invalid or poorly prepared will may be as bad for your survivors as having no will at all. It is not uncommon for someone to prepare a will hastily or try to save money by doing it without legal advice, only to cause confusion that ends with family disputes and legal challenges. To avoid this, you may want to learn the factors required for a valid will in Florida.
4 ways to invalidate your will
In most cases, the minimum age for executing a will is 18, but there can be exceptions. For example, if you are married or have joined the military, your will may be valid even if you are younger than 18. You must also be of sound mind, which a probate court will typically assume. However, if there is reason to believe your heirs will contest this, you may wish to include evidence in your estate plan that you had the capacity to execute it.
Beyond your age and capacity requirements, your will itself must comply with certain laws, which are different in each state. For example, in Florida, your will may be invalid under the following circumstances:
- Your will is not written. Oral wills, or nuncupative wills, are not valid in Florida.
- You did not include your signature on the document, either in your own handwriting or the handwriting of an authorized agent.
- You do not have the signatures of at least two witnesses.
- Your will specifically disinherits your spouse or tries to give your spouse’s share of the estate to someone else without having a prenuptial agreement to support this act.
If you are one of the rare people who have executed a will but you did so in another state, you may want to verify that your will remains valid in Florida. In most cases, a court will uphold a will that is valid in a different state, but it is not smart to take that chance. Instead, reviewing your documents periodically is wise.